InvestigateWest and the Northwest News Network sought a tour of the Saint-Gobain glass plant in south Seattle and an interview with the company as part of our reporting for our story on the top Northwest violators of the Clean Air Act. The company did not grant those requests but did issue this prepared statement. The list the press release refers to is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “watch list” for Northwest clean-air violators.
Media Statement, re: Inclusion of SGCI Seattle Facility on EPA List
We don’t believe the inclusion of any Saint-Gobain Containers Inc. (SGCI) facility on the EPA list is appropriate. In that regard, our company is proud of its commitment to meet all of its environmental compliance obligations including the Clean Air Act. Further, as a leading U.S. producer of more than nine billion endlessly recyclable glass bottles and jars each year, we are committed to a sustainable future for not only our business – but the planet.
From this perspective, we are pleased to provide an update regarding our activities as the first glass container company to reach an agreement on air emissions as part of the EPA’s nationwide Clean Air Act enforcement initiative. As part of the nationwide agreement with the EPA, SGCI is installing emission control technologies and monitoring devices at its various plants, including innovative pilot technologies. That process will continue for several more years and requires substantial capital investment by SGCI.
Specific to our Seattle facility, we have worked with the Puget Sound Clear Air Agency (PSCAA) to address various emissions challenges the facility has faced over the years and in 2007 reached agreement with PSCAA regarding all open issues. Since that time, we believe all concerned are pleased with the progress which has been made despite many technical challenges associated with the plant serving as an EPA pilot for innovative new ‘cloud chamber’ technology designed to reduce sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM). Additionally, given the challenges of obtaining sufficient quantities of uncontaminated cullet to use in our production process, we have brought an independent business on-site to sort through single stream recycled materials to retrieve cullet which would otherwise be landfilled. While we aren’t able to reach the levels of cullet usage our Milford plant enjoys because of the Massachusetts bottle bill, we are improving in this regard at Seattle because of these efforts.
As further examples of its commitments to sustainability, in June, SGCI had three of its manufacturing plants, including the facility in Milford, Mass., honored as the first and only in the industry to earn the 2010 ENERGY STAR® from the EPA for superior energy performance. Additionally, in March, the company shared in the honor of the 2011 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award which was announced for parent company Saint-Gobain. All Saint-Gobain businesses in the U.S. were recognized for their leadership in conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The award marked the third consecutive year the EPA had honored Saint-Gobain and U.S. subsidiaries like SGCI. No other manufacturer of glass containers has ever been honored as a Partner of the Year or presented with a Sustained Excellence Award.
We believe these actions are a reflection of SGCI’s commitment to operate in an environmentally responsible and sustainability-minded manner.